Around 30 people dressed in Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses, hats, flip flops and beach dresses, as well as balls, umbrellas and mats, appeared in front of real estate agency SH Barcelona on Tuesday to denounce that the company is denying the possibility of renewing leases. residents of Casa Orsola, a neighborhood that for several months belonged to the Lioness Inversiones foundation.
The idea of dressing up as a tourist originated with the residents of the house, who are convinced that they were not allowed to make repairs in order to install tourist apartments or seasonal rentals and thus increase the value of the rent.
Six apartments in this building received a bureaufax a few months ago, in which the real estate agency said that they must leave the apartment as soon as the contract ends. Of these, there are already three that have expired, but they decided not to leave and move to the Union of Residents and XHEE (Xarxa d’Habitatge de l’Esquerra de l’Eixample).
One of the victims is Josep Torrent, who has been living on the farm since 2003, that is, 19 years old. “On May 1, my contract ended and there was no way to renew it,” he explains in statements to elDiario.es. Since then, he has been trying to negotiate with the real estate company, but assures that he received only one answer: “Sorry, but the market is like that.”
Elisenda Baños and her family, who have lived at Casa Orsola for about 32 years, are in a similar situation. “We paid 600 euros and we know that now they want to ask for 2,000 euros for the same apartment,” says Baños, who is convinced that the only explanation is the desire to “introduce temporary rent.”
In his case, Baños has a residence exclusion report and assures that he has already been sent to Lioness Inveriones so that she can offer him a social lease in accordance with Law 1/2022, which determines that the contract must be renewed if the tenant in a situation of housing exclusion. Both Baños and Torrent tried to keep paying the rent, but the property refused to do so, so they decided to take the case to justice.
The protest of the residents of Casa Orsola started in the offices of the real estate company SH Barcelona, but given the discomfort of its workers and seeing that the intention was to close the door with them inside, the protesters decided to continue the mobilization outside. To attract the attention of neighbors and passers-by, they turned on music and played beach balls for about an hour.
This real estate action is not the first among Casa Orsola residents who began to organize and refuse to leave their homes as soon as the bureaufax arrived. Since then, they held meetings and joint events, so that friendships began to emerge between them.
In addition, they claim that the administration tried to negotiate with some of them, but they refused. “It’s all or nothing,” one Residents’ Union spokesperson said Tuesday, who also stressed that the bloc has the support of fifty organizations in the area.
On the other hand, the Residents’ Union claims that the new company that owns the house has been asking neighbors for weeks to remove protest posters that some have hung on their windows and balconies. But also the fact that Lioness Inversiones began to carry out work in the already empty houses, although they did not install any information signs in the common areas of the building.
They also note that partitions and walls have been torn down, despite the fact that they did not ask permission from the neighbors, who by law must be informed in order to carry out work to change the structure of the houses.
Those affected have reported these illegal reforms to the city council, which has already conducted an inspection of the property. “We hope they will be sanctioned,” say the Tenants’ Union, who also say they are pressuring the government to include in a new housing law being drafted a measure to hold those landlords who set up temporary rentals (out of 31 days to 11 months) fraudulently, as tourist rentals require a special license.
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